D.C. Government Slashes Funding for Some of the City's Most Vulnerable Women

Days after the District made the shocking announcement that $20 million had been cut from the homeless services budget for the 2010 fiscal year, advocates and organizations that provide shelter for the homeless are still reeling. One of The Women’s Foundation grantee partners is reaching out for help – as winter approaches and the organizations that assist the homeless face a crisis.

Calvary Women’s Services was notified Monday, September 28, by The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness (TCP) that contract funding for Calvary would be cut by nearly $75,000 beginning October 1st.  These funds support safe housing and other services for 150 homeless women each year.  TCP is an independent, non-profit corporation that coordinates DC’s Continuum of Care homeless services.

Calvary is one of many social service providers notified of cuts to their existing contracts. Emergency, transitional and supported permanent housing programs were all targeted as the city attempted to close an ever-widening budget gap.  The impact of these cuts on the overall homeless services system is going to be severe, with some housing programs reducing their services and others likely closing programs. 

Although these cuts may provide some immediate relief to the city’s budget problems, the real impact of the cuts will be felt by those in need of safe housing and support services.  Women who have already lost their jobs in this economic crisis will have fewer services and housing options available to them. These cuts will make women who are already at-risk much more likely to end up living on the streets or in unsafe situations.

The women who come to programs like Calvary are survivors of violence, women struggling with mental illness, and women working to overcome addictions.  At Calvary we make sure they have access to all of the services they need to address these challenges – in addition to providing a safe place to live.

We know that programs like ours work.  Every five days a woman moves out of Calvary and into her own home.

We have always relied on the support of both public funding and private donations to make our programs possible.  In the past, supporters have helped us close gaps like this one, and I am hopeful that the community will step up once again.  But I am also concerned that this gap may be too wide for our generous donors to close.

The coming months will be challenging ones for organizations like Calvary, as we try to find ways to continue to provide women in this community with critical, life changing services.  More so, they will be challenging months for women who need services like ours, as they face closed doors and reduced services at programs across the city.

 You can make a difference.  Support Calvary – or another agency facing these cuts – today. 

 Volunteer, donate or learn more at www.calvaryservices.org.

Kris Thompson is the Executive Director of Calvary Women’s Services, recognized as a 2009 Leadership Awardee by The Women’s Foundation.  Learn more about them on their Web site or on Facebook.

Rebecca Roberts: Join me and my mom for lunch on October 20th?

As journalists, my mom and I are often considered powerful women.

But we know that true power comes from much more than a job or a public voice. It stems from collective action and dedication to postive change–in ourselves, our families, our community and the world.

And that’s why we’re a part of The Women’s Foundation’s powerful wave of philanthropists helping improve our community through investments in women and girls.

So, we’re thrilled to be serving as this year’s luncheon moderators, along with emcee NBC4 News Co-anchor, Doreen Gentzler, and to help share The Women’s Foundation’s story of how investments in women and girls pay off infinitely in change within our community.

We hope you’ll join us on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at The Women’s Foundation’s 2009 Leadership Luncheon from noon-2 p.m.

You won’t want to miss our annual community-wide celebration of the powerful women’s philanthropic movement in the Washington metropolitan area!

As always, the Leadership Luncheon will be preceded by the annual Community Briefing, which will feature an update on Stepping Stones–The Women’s Foundation’s groundbreaking initiative that is helping low-income, women-headed families escape poverty and create lives of financial independence and success.

Please join us at the 2009 Leadership Luncheon, where we’ll stand together as a proud community of philanthropists and activists helping to transform our community through investments in women and girls.

Rebecca Roberts is an award winning journalist whose work can be heard on Talk of the Nation, Weekend All Things Considered, and the Kojo Nnamdi Show.  She is also a member of The Women’s Foundation’s Washington 100 and is co-chair of the 1K Club.  Her mother, Cokie, is an award winning journalist, currently serving as a senior news analyst for NPR News and a political commentator for ABC News.  Cokie is also a member of Washington 100.

Focusing on not being able to afford a $15 martini? What about workers earning $15,000/year?

I have a few story ideas to pitch to the Washington Post, which has devoted scarce front-page inches in the last week to articles about how the recession is affecting the dating lives of men in their 20s and 30s who are active in the local bar scene and extreme text messaging among teenagers.

I think The Post needs help in understanding the true dimensions of what is happening in our region, particularly how the economy is affecting women and families who never had the resources to afford $15 specialty drinks and expensive cell phone plans.

Here is what keeps me up at night:

Our Grantee Partners are experiencing significant increases in demand for social and health services.
One of our Northern Virginia Grantee Partners reports that nonprofits there are seeing a 30 percent increase in requests for housing assistance and a 50 percent increase in requests for health assistance.  Of the overall increase in demand, about 25 percent of it is from people who have never asked for help before.

Another one of our Northern Virginia Grantee Partners notes that participants in its shelter program are needing to stay longer (up to two to four months longer) because of reductions in other local programs providing for next-step housing and basic needs.

Our Grantee Partners are facing increasing challenges in placing their graduates in good jobs.
One of our District of Columbia Grantee Partners preparing women for jobs in medical and office administration and building maintenance reports that graduates have lower job placement rates this year because, as a result of the economy, they are competing with higher-skilled individuals for the same entry-level positions.

Our Grantee Partners involved in preparing women for jobs in construction report that fewer jobs are available for their graduates because of layoffs and attrition. One program has told us that it is paying increasing attention to helping participants develop a “Plan B” for alternative employment until hiring picks up again.

Many of our Grantee Partners face serious challenges to raising the funds they need to provide their current levels of services – let alone expand them to meet growing need.
State and local government budget shortfalls are part of the problem. Fairfax County, for example, has a $650 million deficit this year.

Local (and national) foundations supporting these nonprofits have seen their endowments decline 30-50 percent.  Because many base their giving decisions on three-year-rolling averages, 2009 grant-making is down, but 2010 (and now also probably 2011) will be even worse because more bad years will be included in the averaging.

Local foundations, including The Women’s Foundation, have begun doing staff lay-offs. This is to do everything they can to maintain or increase their current level of grantmaking in a difficult environment.  But it may be a sign of more to come, if the economy does not turn around.

The unanswered question of what will happen to Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac’s charitable giving is an additional threat in our community.

There are many, many more stories – and many, many women, children and families who are part of these stories.

Washington Post: If you need any help learning more about these issues so you can cover them, please call The Women’s Foundation. We know these issues all too well and would love to connect you to them to increase their visibility in our community.

Gwen Rubinstein is a program officer at The Women’s Foundation.

Congrats Doreen, and thanks for being an inspiration to so many!

I’m so thrilled to hear of Doreen being recognized as a 2008 Washingtonian of the Year!  This is so well-deserved.

I recall first meeting Doreen in an early round of the Rainmakers Giving Circle, and was so impressed by how thoughtful and engaged she was in the circle’s work, which was fairly demanding, time-wise.  Knowing how complicated her schedule was, her example motivated me to strengthen my commitment to The Women’s Foundation.

If she could make that meeting downtown, I had better get there!

Through the years, it has been delightful to witness her effect on others as well.

I remember how moved I was to see Grantee Partners beaming as they had picture after picture taken with her at a house event.

At a Washington 100 breakfast at her home, a Grantee Partner told our group how, after meeting Doreen at a previous event, she stopped watching her regular Spanish newscast and started watching Doreen’s. Not only did her English improve, but now her sons also watch Doreen.

And just last month at the board meeting, Covenant House’s Executive Director, Judith Dobbins, broke out with a huge smile as she recognized Doreen during our otherwise routine, round-the-table introductions.  We all had to laugh.

Because of Doreen’s personal graciousness and the respect she garners throughout our region, The Women’s Foundation’s good work is amplified every time she represents us.

But Doreen also has a tremendous fun side that I’ve had the pleasure to get to know as we’ve worked together as co-chairs of Washington 100.  Given how organized and poised she is, you probably would be surprised that half the time I feel like we’re Lucy and Ethel.  We spend a lot of time laughing, just scrambling to keep up and improvise with our latest version of a "plan", which is often a work in progress.

Thank goodness Doreen is a rare combination of extremely dependable and organized, mixed with go-with-the-flow and a really wry sense of humor.

I’m so proud of her earning this prestigious award.

Doreen, you make us all proud!  Congrats on this dazzling accomplishment.

Barb Strom Thompson is co-chair of The Women’s Foundation’s Washington 100 network and a board member. In her professional life, she is a child development specialist.

Congratulations to Doreen Gentzler, Washingtonian of the Year!

It is just like Doreen to accept an honor as huge as being named Washingtonian of the Year by turning the attention back to The Women’s Foundation and the NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo—two community efforts she supports tirelessly.

But that’s exactly what she did Monday night on the news when her co-anchor, Jim Vance, proudly announced her award. Doreen’s response was about how pleased she was that the award brought attention to Washington Area Women’s Foundation and the NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo.

Having worked with Doreen, who serves on our board of directors, I echo Jim’s statements about Doreen’s commitment and efforts in our community.  She has been a tremendous force in fostering The Women’s Foundation’s success, serving first as part of our Rainmakers Giving Circle, and then as a board member and co-chair of our philanthropic leadership network, Washington 100. She also brings an amazing presence and energy to our Leadership Luncheon, which she graciously emcees every year.

As just one example of Doreen’s commitment, she—along with her co-chair, Barb Strom Thompson—helped solidify Washington 100 by recruiting more than 100 founding members to kick off the network in 2007. Many of the current members will say that they were impressed and inspired to join and to remain part of the network by Doreen’s outstanding positive energy and dedication to our work.

In addition to her tremendous talents as a communicator and her knowledge of our community, Doreen brings humility, humor, grace and passion to everything she does, and I know that I speak for everyone in The Women’s Foundation’s community who has had the opportunity to meet or work with her that we are very fortunate to have her involved in our work and mission.

Doreen, here at The Women’s Foundation, we are tremendously proud of you and are thrilled to see your contributions to our region acknowledged by this award.  Thank you for your continuing service to help improve the lives of our region’s women and girls.

Congrats Doreen, and to all the other 2008 Washingtonians of the Year. We’re grateful for the work you do to make our community a better place to live and work.

Read the article on Doreen’s award here.

Phyllis Caldwell is president of The Women’s Foundation and a member of Washington 100.

Where is the real power in The Power of Giving Together?

Last week, seeing the story of the African American Women’s Giving Circle gave me such a professional high.  Nothing I had been involved in to date had been deemed so newsworthy as to grace the front page of The Washington Post!  So I was thrilled to be connected to this. 

As I read the story, I was enthralled with the description of the circle gathering place, the spirit of sisterhood shared by the participants, the commitment to community, and the excitement of nurturing their own philanthropic spirits.

I was thrilled with the tone and appreciation of the article, but couldn’t help but find myself wishing that all 20 of the amazing women in the circle could have shared the spotlight.  I know that a newspaper has limited real estate and that not everyone could be pictured or quoted, but knowing all of the dynamic and wonderful women who make up this group, I really wished that we could somehow reflect that collective spirit more clearly.

Then I glanced at The Women’s Foundation logo with our tagline, The Power of Giving Together.  And it made me wonder: Where is the power in “giving together”?

In the first few months that I was at The Women’s Foundation, I saw very clearly the power of the multiplier factor in giving together.  In a flash, a single contribution of $1,000 could be turned into $1 million

That is pretty darned powerful!

But as I reflect on the African American Women’s Giving Circle and the Rainmakers Giving Circle, and indeed all giving circles, I am struck by something else. A deeper, more subtle power…the qualitative power of the collective.

In North American, there is a lot of focus on individualism.  It seems that our entire culture is built on it. So I did a little research on the subject of individualism and found this:  "Individualism stands for a society in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after himself or herself and his or her immediate family only."*

Individualistic cultures like the United States (highest score = 1st rank) and France (10th rank) emphasize mostly their individual goals. People from individualistic cultures tend to think of themselves as individuals and as "I," distinctive from other people and emphasize their success/achievements in job or private wealth and aiming up to reach more and/or a better job position.

Now clearly this is not the sum total of the North American experience or values. But the basic elements are undeniable. Looking specifically in the world of philanthropy, some of the oldest and most established foundations derived from the wealth of an individual or of a single family.  When we traditionally look at donors, we tend to look at the individual.

From this perspective alone, I can understand why the draw is to identify with a single person or a few people. But a giving circle is really the antithesis to that.  It is about the collective, not the individual.

That is what makes giving circles so powerful and unique. And in fact, we can generalize that even more to say that The Women’s Foundation is really the antithesis to that with our overarching emphasis on collective giving and our inherent belief in The Power of Giving Together, whether through the giving circles, the 1K Club or Washington 100.

I think that most of us can recognize that power from a fiscal perspective, but perhaps not as much from a cultural and philosophical perspective.

Looking at the definition from the same source on the collective, or collectivism, I found this.  Collectivism "stands for a society in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong cohesive groups, which throughout people’s lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty."*

Collectivistic cultures have a great emphasis on groups and think more in terms of "we".

The sociologist in me is fascinated by this juxtaposition of the social pull in our culture to the individual and the increasing popularity of giving circles that exists only as a collective. But more importantly, the humanist in me is really heartened that we are redefining philanthropy in such an amazing way. There is no question that the sense of individualism is a critical part of what has made North America what it is today.

But, to me, there is always room for the “we,” and if we are to move forward, truly move forward in a way that supports the “global village” that we are creating, we are going to need to find the balance between the individual and the collective.

But for today, I am thrilled to work with women who put the “we” back in philanthropy.

Nicole Cozier is Philanthropic Education Officer at The Women’s Foundation.

Source: "Cultures and Organizations – Intercultural Cooperation and its importance for survival" Hofstede, Geert (1994)

Philanthropy resting more and more on women's shoulders.

What makes women’s philanthropy different from general philanthropy?  This is something we often discuss here at The Women’s Foundation, informally, in giving circle meetings, at Philanthropy 101 sessions.

So what fun to see an article today really try to break it down.  Michael A. MacDowell wrote a guest column yesterday for the Press & Sun Bulletin in New York called "Women to take on more responsibility through philanthropy."

In  his column, MacDowell explains how it has come to be that philanthropy is largely, and increasingly, dominated by women.   He writes, "Today, the odds are good that the majority of the people in the United States with altruistic intentions are women…Simply stated, there are 6 million more women than men in the country. Plus, more women hold an undergraduate degree or a higher diploma than their counterparts, and 57 percent of today’s enrollment in institutions of higher education are female…In 2005…46.3 percent of the nation’s wealthiest people were women…With combined assets of $6.3 trillion, their wealth has increased 50 percent in seven years."

Not to mention that over the next 50 years, women will control most of the $41 trillion expected to pass from generation to generation.

That sounds like some pretty serious money to me.

So that tells us where the influence of women in philanthropy is coming from.  But do women really give differently?  According to MacDowell, yes.

First of all, he says, women tend to listen to other women philanthropists more for advice about their giving.  Whether on a large scale–i.e. being influenced by Oprah or Maya Angelou, or on a small scale, such as what we see here at The Women’s Foundation with women meeting, networking and talking about their giving through giving circles, Washington 100, the 1K Club, Philanthropy 101s or the other avenues that encourage women not only to give–but to give smart.

And, according to the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University, women do think differently about their giving:

  •  Women tend to be more cautious in their contributions, researching organizations more carefully than do men;
  • Women emphasize giving to individuals, rather than brick-and-mortar projects, as a result of a deeply held belief that individuals make a difference;
  • Women’s political and economic views are as diverse as men’s, but they tend to make decisions based more on anecdotal information and intuitive knowledge; and,
  • Women tend to be more "tactile" in their giving patterns. They like to see, and in some ways, participate, in the philanthropic activities which they support.

As with any generalizations made about any group of people, one could analyze, dissect and discuss whether these trends are an accurate reflection of  the diversity of women’s giving.

But perhaps the more important question around women’s giving is whether women will not only continue to establish themselves as a philanthropic force, but whether they will focus their giving on investments in other women. 

The success of the Women Moving Millions campaign, as well as of local women’s foundations and the organizations they support, will be very telling in this regard.

We can only hope that as women continue to carry an increasing portion of the burden in philanthropy on their shoulders that women and girls in local communities and around the world will find themselves being lifted up.

Phyllis will lead with purpose and passion!

I’m so thrilled to welcome Phyllis as the next leader of The Women’s Foundation!

Phyllis and I share a number of common grounds, from careers in the banking industry, to long-time residency in the Washington metropolitan area, and our personal dedication to the women and girls of our region.

That’s why we’re so proud to welcome her as our new leader!  Success in this role requires talent, experience and expertise—which Phyllis has in abundance.  With more than 20 years of professional experience in sales and management and a decade of focus on community development and housing initiatives in low and moderate- income communities, Phyllis is the perfect fit to lead The Women’s Foundation.

Moreover, Phyllis has that crucial spark that defines The Women’s Foundation: passion.

Her membership in Washington 100 predates her appointment to President, as does her long-standing history with personal philanthropy and dedication to social change.

Phyllis gets it. She understands giving, our community, and the importance of investing in women and girls. Her passion, combined with her knowledge and expertise of how to bring partners together and generate community investments that build long-term social change, are sure to inspire us all!

Welcome, Phyllis! We all look forward to working with you to change the lives of women and girls, our community, and ourselves!

Deb Gandy is the chair of The Women’s Foundation’s board of directors and a director with Citi Private Bank.

Announcing our new president, Phyllis R. Caldwell!

The Board of Directors and Staff of Washington Area Women’s Foundation are pleased to announce Phyllis Caldwell as our new President.

Phyllis comes to us from Bank of America where she was President of Community Development Banking. She has broad professional experience in creating pathways of opportunity for low-income people and communities.

A philanthropist in her own right, Phyllis is a member of the Washington 100 and shares our fundamental belief in the Power of Giving Together.

View our press release to learn more about Phyllis’ background and her personal commitment to investing in women and girls.

Please join us in welcoming Phyllis as The Women’s Foundation enters our tenth anniversary year!

The mighty hearts of Washington 100 profiled in Capitol File!

Mighty hearts indeed.  The title Capitol File chose for their November profile on the launch of Washington 100 couldn’t be more a propos.

Washington 100 is certainly a network of philanthropic leaders with the mightiest of hearts–with many giving not only of their treasure, but of their time and their talent to truly learn about, dig into and understand their philanthropic commitment to the women and girls of the Washington metropolitan region.

As a result, their impact is exponential, much like the strategy behind their giving.

100 people giving $10,000 over two years=$1 million.  The embodiment of The Power of Giving Together.

Co-chaired by Doreen Gentzler and Barbara Strom Thompson, this philanthropic network is, as Doreen notes in her letter in Capitol File, making a real difference.

"Together," Doreen writes, "we’re helping women get training for better paying jobs, helping them learn how to get out of debt and even buy their own homes, helping girls get better educations and learn how to plan for their futures."

Washington 100–truly mighty hearts making a mighty impact.

To learn more about Washington 100 and how you can get involved with the Washington region’s premier network of philanthropic leaders changing the lives of women and girls, contact Allison Mitchell at amitchell@wawf.org or call 202.347.7737 x207.